I don’t know if I have ever looked at the Major championship season with more excitement than this year. And not just for myself. Yeah, of course I want to win, but I’m excited by what the other Australian golfers could do this year.
You look at the rotational Major venues for 2019 and it’s the best of the best. I’m very excited about Bethpage. I have played well there in the years it has hosted the first event of the PGA Tour’s playoffs series. I had a good chance to win in 2016, when I tied for fourth, and played some solid golf to earn a top-25 in 2012.
For the same reason, I’m really pumped about the US Open going to Pebble Beach. I hadn’t made my Major championship debut the last time it was held there, in 2010, but my record at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am [Day has six top-six finishes in 10 starts, including a fourth place this year] gives me a lot of confidence.
Obviously, Pebble will play a lot different to the Pro-Am given the time of year and that it’s a US Open, but that isn’t such a big deal for me. I usually prepare for very specific conditions for the Pro-Am anyway – knowing that, in February, soft fairways and greens are going to affect the way the ball reacts and spins. This will just be about preparing for the exact opposite: Pebble to be playing firm and fast.
I haven’t seen much of Royal Portrush, but I think everyone is going to be the same on that front. Just seeing photos of the scenery and landscape, it’s going to be great. The Open Championship is fast becoming one of my favourite tournaments to play in.
I really believe there is a good chance one of the Australian golfers will win one of the Majors this year. I hope it’s me, but ‘Leish’ is playing some phenomenal golf. He has been so solid for more than two years now. He contends so regularly. Cam Smith is sneaky good; he will pop his head up in big-time events and that is a good thing. He hits it decent off the tee, he is very strong going into the greens and he has tremendous touch around them. Scotty seems like he is definitely turning his game around from last year and is progressing nicely.
“I really believe there is a good chance one of the Australian golfers will win one of the Majors this year.”
So I definitely think there is a good chance. And not just for the four of us, but other Aussies who play on tour. You look at some of the younger guys like Cam Davis; he hits it a long way, effortlessly. If he qualifies for some of the Majors, he will do well.
Outside of the Majors, but still within this new championship window, I’m also a big fan of the Players Championship reverting to its March date. The great thing is that starting in March, we have a huge tournament every month for five months.
I watch and read a lot being said about whether the Players will one day be regarded as a Major. I don’t know if it will, but I certainly hope so. And I’m not just saying that because I have won one. If you have been fortunate enough to attend a Major and then come along to the Players, you will see how it’s very different to regular PGA Tour events. It has a Major-type feel. It has the same routing and golf course every year, so there is a lot of history about it with regards to guys hitting memorable shots on certain holes.
The biggest thing is, as players, it’s our tournament. We want it to be the biggest and best event it can be. As time goes on, it’s starting to get so much bigger.
It’s already an important event, but with what Jay Monahan has done since he stepped in as commissioner, he has put the Players Championship at the forefront of PGA Tour events. With time and history, it may end up being classed as a Major championship. After all, we’re playing for a $US12.5 million purse this year – the biggest in the sport. – with Evin Priest